By the end of 2011 Zali Krishna was musically bankrupt. The last twenty odd years that had seen dabblings with electronica, post-pub-rock, proggazing, modal skiffle and the like had left his paltry offerings badly bent out of shape. The more pretentious observers would throw around hybridity, melange, pastiche and other apologia in his defence, but even they were having to admit that none of these critical Band Aids would prevent the balloon from imminent deflation.
And so it was with Any Colour You Like As Long As It's Beige that things came to what Michael Flanders called a pretty underpass. The monotonous fusionesque scampering beat that drives the title track into ever expanding circles of rock star automobile jingle hell could not cover up the fact that Krishna was launching this defence from his back foot. He brings his melodic progression, if it can be called that, up into areas of the fretboard which he claimed, "I was blissfully unaware of until a few years ago." Quite where he gets off ditching this compositional device into an urban thunderstorm after five minutes, we can only speculate.
Krishna's deployment of shorter suites for his projects than the traditional length for the 21st Century album is a curious matter in itself. Whether he felt that the post-physical sonic product in a era where, to quote Marx, "all that is solid melts into air", was now entirely fluid, or whether he simply felt that any project should find its own natural extension, we cannot know for certain. Commentators who pressed Krishna on this particular question were reputedly subjected to vilification at best, or otherwise what might constitute grievous bodily harm.
Where the second track opens with short wave ephemera the listener is given a sporadic dance of nods and winks by the title Monorail to Vacarres to suggest that we are now re-entering the territory of his late 20th Century offerings, such as the 90 minute long opus, Monorail. Krishna's arrogance becomes inexcusable in suggesting that the audience might even be aware of this obscure cassette release, which was at the very least reasonably substantial in length if nothing else. Moreover we must assume that this track was an outtake from the box marked "best left alone". We can imagine no higher praise.
By the time we reach the second and longer half of the mini-album we are brought up short by his dense, ill-advised supermarket mysticism. Disembodied voices in Urdu reciting the Apocalypse of St John could not be more laughable, nor could the hyperplexed, open-tuned durge be more uninspiring, if it had been drenched in layer upon layer of muddy reverb. And of course that is exactly what is served up here under the giddy title of Hikikomori. If Krishna expects us to make ahistorical connexions between the bedroom hermits of contemporary Japan and the exiled monastic of Patmos he clearly has another thing coming.
And if we hadn't felt that Krishna had been overstepping the mark from the get go, the double-reed sweetened ten minute closer, Krawattenmuffeljugendstil, should be the signal that all is not well with this project. The oboe playing in earlier projects has to be considered as ill-advised at the very least, and the Dorian "pastoralism" (Krishna's phrase) opening out into muddled pagan Mixolydian/Ionian major modalities should have been given the cattle bolt as early as 1972. That we find it dancing lazily like some hypertrophied Riverdance of the astral realms in 2011 should make the listener sit up and write a stern letter to The Times.
All in all we should be thankful that this set of recordings are not any longer. Krishna's motives for releasing this are obscure, as are his reasons for resurrecting the name The Entropy Circus which was first used in about 1989 and formally given the heave ho in 2007. Whether at this time he considered himself one or legion, in the end the mini-album known to us as Any Colour You Like As Long As It's Beige cannot be considered as anything but the final defeat of this particular thermodynamic regime.